Paige VanZant describes bare-knuckle boxing as ‘sport for only the toughest of the tough’

Paige VanZant, BKFC
Image via @paigevanzant on Instagram (photographer not listed)

Paige VanZant is no longer an MMA fighter… for the time being. And that means it’s off to the ring to prove herself in bare-knuckle boxing.

VanZant signed with the Bare-Knuckle Fighting Championship (BKFC) after becoming a free agent in Summer 2020. During her time with the UFC, the 26-year old would go 5-4 and take on several notable names such as an eventual champion in Rose Namajunas.

“12 Guage” competed for the last time in the Octagon at UFC 251 where she was submitted by Amanda Ribas via armbar in round one. Sent to swim in the waters of free agency, it wasn’t long before VanZant found a new home with BKFC.

Now, the former Dancing with the Stars finalist is set to make her bare-knuckle debut on February 5 in what appears to be a match with Britain Hart. The bout has yet to be made official by the promotion. Hart is a 4-4-3 veteran of the ring and last competed at BKFC 14 in November. She would earn a fourth-round TKO over Randine Eckholm

As this journey into a new sport rapidly approaches for VanZant, she detailed why she’s so passionate about the pursuit.

“It wasn’t strictly financial for me,” Paige VanZant shared on Unlocking the Cage. “I actually had three or four big players when it came to negotiating contracts. So I had four awesome offers to look at. I think everyone kind of expected me to go to Bellator cause that’s where my husband [Austin Vanderford] fights. And of course, that aspect did intrigue me, I’d love to fight for the same organization as him. It makes sense career-wise, I guess. But, the passion in me wanted to go to bare-knuckle.

“I feel like looking at my fight career, yeah I have an equal amount of submission finishes, knockouts, and like a decision. So for me, it was more about when you look at my whole fight career, the one thing that stands out above anything is how tough I am and I carried that through every single fight and I think the people who really make it in bare-knuckle boxing are the people who are tough. It’s a sport for only the toughest of the tough. And that’s where I want to show my worth and my value. At the same time, I get to utilize and sharpen what I feel is one of my best weapons and that’s my striking.

“I may go back to MMA, we don’t know,” VanZant finished. “But right now I’m truly passionate about this bare-knuckle boxing and I’m excited to see where it takes me.”

For Paige VanZant, she’s been plagued by arm injuries ever since suffering a unanimous decision loss to “Jessy Jess” Jessica-Rose Clark in January 2018. In the fight, VanZant broke her arm after landing a spinning back fist on Clark.

VanZant is 8-5 in MMA and her last victory came in January 2019 against Rachael Ostovich.

This article appeared first on BJPENN.COM